◼ There is an exodus of doctors and nurse practitioners underway at the Mental Health Branch of the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). - Ryan Burns/Lost Coast Outpost
While the current county budget includes funding for 10 full-time physician/psychiatrists in that unit, just half that number were employed at the start of the year, and four of those remaining five doctors have since submitted their resignations.
If those positions aren’t filled in the next six weeks it will leave just one full-time, local psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer “Katy” Wilson, employed at the county Mental Health branch, and Dr. Wilson works primarily at the county jail rather than Sempervirens (the county’s psychiatric hospital) or the Crisis Stabilization Unit.
Meanwhile, all but one of the branch’s nurse practitioners have also resigned. (The one who remains, Jennifer Albrecht, has been on leave since Aug. 2013; she’s scheduled to return March 10.)
In interviews and documents obtained by the Outpost, insiders describe a program in crisis, a mental health unit where gross mismanagement and chronic understaffing have led to employee burnout and dangerous conditions for patients and employees alike. KEEP READING